Of that total some $1.1 billion (over 17 per cent) will be spent on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as acquisition of the RAAF’s next fighter begins to ramp up considerably. The acquisition of 72 F-35As under Project AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B has a total budget of $16 billion, of which $1.5 billion will have been spent through to June 30 this year, the Portfolio Budget Statements show
“Major activities during 2017-18 will include: progressing the production of Australia’s next eight F-35A aircraft, including delivery of four aircraft; commencing the procurement of a further eight F-35A aircraft; continue maturing the development of a sustainment model for Australian based support; commencing detailed planning and support for the ferry of the first two Australian F-35A aircraft to RAAF Williamtown in 2018; and Australian pilots and maintainers,” the budget notes.
The budget also records the planned wind down in F/A-18 classic Hornet flying hours as the F-35 fleet builds up, falling from 16,700 in the current financial year to a planned 4,750 hours in 2020-21.
Meanwhile $853 million will be spent in 2017-18 on the ongoing acquisition of the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, with a further aircraft planned for delivery in the next financial year.
“Major financial requirements in 2017-18 relate to the delivery of aircraft, aircrew and maintenance training devices, an operational load management system, air-to-air refuelling clearance activities, spares and transition training,” the PBS reads of the $5.3 billion AIR 7000 Phase 2 acquisition of 12 P-8As to replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orions.
Elsewhere 10 Pilatus PC-21 trainers are due to be delivered in 2017-18, the budget notes, as $239 million is spent on the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System Program (out of a total budget of $1.2 billion).
“During 2017-18, 10 training aircraft and four flight training simulators will be delivered. Installation of an associated learning environment will commence at RAAF Base Pearce, WA, and one will be completed at RAAF Base East Sale, VIC, enabling RAAF to validate training material,” the budget states of AIR 5428.